Udhiyah signifies the Oneness of Allah, His Blessings and Bounties as it reminds Muslims of the exemplary obedience of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to His Lord and his great sacrifices to Him. Udhiyah encompasses much goodness and blessings and thus a great deal of importance in the lives of Muslims.
Animals prescribed for Udhiyah are camels, cattle and sheep. The animal to be offered for sacrifice must have reached the prescribed age, which is six months for lamb, one year for goat, two years for cow and five years for a camel. The animal should also be completely free of any faults because sacrifice is an act of worship and Allah is Tayyib and He only accepts that which is Tayyib.
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “There are four that will not be accepted for sacrifice: a one-eyed animal whose defect is obvious, a sick animal whose sickness is obvious, a lame animal whose limp is obvious and an emaciated animal that has no marrow in its bones.” [(Sahîh) by Shaikh al-Albanî in Sahîh al-Jamî no. 886]
It is Makruh to sacrifice an animal with milder defects such one with a horn or ear missing, or with slits in its ears, etc.
The basic rule of Udhiyah is that sacrifice is required at an appointed time from one who is alive, on behalf of himself and on behalf of his household. He may also include in the reward all those whom he wishes, dead or alive.
It is from the Sunnah that one includes his household living and dead in his Udhiyah. So, when he slaughters his animal, he should say, “Allahumma hatha ‘anni wa ‘an ahli bayti”, meaning “O Allah! This is on my behalf and on behalf of my family members.”
It is from the virtues of Udhiyah that one animal is sufficient for one man and his family; he is not required to make separate sacrifices on behalf of every member (living or dead).
Narrated Abu Ayyub:“At the time of Allah’s Messenger (SAW), a man would sacrifice a sheep on behalf of himself and the members of his household, and they would eat from it and give some to others.”
Scholars differ on whether Udhiyah is wajib or obligatory or a confirmed Sunnah. Imam Abu Hanifah is among those who uphold it as wajib or obligatory, and it is one of the two opinions narrated from Imam Ahmad. It was also the opinion of Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, and is one of the two opinions in the mazhab of Imam Malik.
Those who favour this opinion take the following as evidence: That Allah (SWT) says:”Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only).” [al-Kawthar]. This verse is a command and a command implies obligation. Also, it is repeated in the Sahihayn (al-Bukharî and Muslim)
On the most appropriate time for the sacrifice, Jundub (RA) reported: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: ‘Whoever slaughtered his sacrifice before he prays, let him slaughter another one in its place, and whoever did not slaughter a sacrifice, let him do so in the name of Allah.” [Sahih Muslim].
It is also related from Ali (RA): “The days of Nahr (sacrifice) are the day of al-Adha and the three days following it.”
Similarly, “Whoever can afford to offer a sacrifice but does not do so, let him not approach our place or prayer.” (Musnad Ahmad and Ibn Majah.)
Majority of the scholars uphold the second view: that Udhiyah is a confirmed Sunnah (Sunnah mu’akkadah). These are Malik and Imam Ahmad, al-Shafa’i. In fact they say it is Makruh (disliked) to neglect this act of worship, if one has the capability to perform the sacrifice.
This opinion is based on the hadith narrated by Jabir (RA):”I prayed on Eid al-Adha with the Messenger of Allah (SAW), and when he finished (the prayer), he was brought one ram, and he sacrificed it. He said: ‘In the Name of Allah, Allah is Most Great. This is on behalf of myself and any member of my Ummah who did not offer a sacrifice.”
On the two views – those who say Udhiyah is obligatory and those who say it is a Sunnah – Shaikh Ibn Uthaymîn (RA) said: “Each point of view has its evidence. It is safe for the one who is able to offer a sacrifice not to neglect to do so, because of what is involved in this act of reverence towards Allah, remembering Him, and making sure that one has nothing to be blamed for.”
With regards to sharing a sacrifice, the scholars say a camel or a cow can be shared by seven people, this is based on the narration of Jabir (RA), who said: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) commanded us to share camels and cattle, each seven men sharing one animal.” [Sahîh Muslim]
If a sheep, a goat or a ram is offered for Udhiyah, then sharing is not allowed, since no evidence is found in the Sunnah for it.
The scholars agree that sacrificing an animal and giving its meat in charity is better than giving its value in charity.
Slaughtering the animal with one’s own hands is better, but if one does not do so, it is Mustahab (liked, preferable) for him to be present at the time of slaughtering.
Anas (RA) reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) sacrificed with his own hands, two horned rams with black markings, reciting the name of Allah and glorifying Him (saying Allahu-Akbar). He placed his foot on their sides (while sacrificing). [Sahih Muslim]
Eating from one’s sacrifice is Mustahab (liked, preferable). It is also Mustahab for him, who performs Udhiyah, not to eat before he offers his sacrifice; he should break his fast with the meat of his sacrifice. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:”Let every man eat from his sacrifice.” (Sahîh)
Buraidah (RA) reported: “The Prophet (SAW) would not go out on the day of Eid al-Fitr until he had eaten and on the day of Eid al Adha) he would not eat until he had returned [from Salat].” at-Tirmidhî and Ibn Majah.
Dividing the meat into three is Mustahab; one-third to keep for oneself, one-third to be given as gifts and one-third to be given in charity.
Scholars also agree that it is not permissible to sell anything from the sacrificed animal’s meat, skin or fat.
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Whoever sells the skin of his Udhiyah, there is no Udhiyah for him (i.e. his sacrifice is not counted).” [(Hasan) al-Albanî in Sahîh al-Jamî]
The butcher should not be given anything from the sacrifice, by way of reward or payment. Ali (AS) said:
“It was said that it is permissible to give the butcher something as a gift. It is also permissible to give some of it to a non-Muslim, if he is poor or a relative or a neighbour, in order to open his heart to Islam.” [Fatawa Shaikh Abd al-Azîz Ibn Bâz]